Culture Shock: Why Culture Is An Inside Job

I spend a lot of time in other people’s business and the journey always starts with the CEOs story. I want to know about the birth of their brand, who’s been involved and how it was built. Then we move on to reviewing key documents – org charts, P&L, vision, mission and strategy docs – digging into the foundations that have driven the business to date.

Over the years I’ve noticed a pattern, there’s always one document that doesn’t quite fit, it’s the outlier, the piece written, but never fully implemented. It’s the culture document.

As business owners, we create teams and expect our people to make them work.  When newbies join, we take them through the onboarding process, introduce them to the rest of the team and away we go. Of course, should issues arise, we have HR to help, we might invest in a little team building activity every now and then, but very rarely are we going to the heart of the problem.

We humans are complex creatures and come with our own set of weird and wonderful beliefs, values and experiences. The business community has been slow to acknowledge and respond to this in a meaningful way, the EQ is undervalued and honest, open communication just sounds like trouble.

We might have a vision that attracts mega talent, we can ‘have the right people in the right seats on the right bus’ (Jim Collins says in Good to Great) but we will never harness the true potential of our creative, technical or intellectual output without attending to our people.

The leaders who reflect on this, develop skills and practice their process, before preaching via the culture document, will be the ones to achieve the greatest results.  Nothing inspires us more than being in the presence of a leader who’s willing to go first.

To start your process, take time to reflect and consider your answers to the following:

  • Who you are as a leader of your business?
  • Do you take time for self-reflection?
  • Are you at ease and practiced in having honest conversations?
  • How often do you reflect on culture and values and use it to guide your actions?
  • Do you ask team members if and how they use culture to guide their conversations?

Think about the people in your team?

  • How often do you get into their world and find out what’s going on?
  • Have you asked what they like about your leadership?
  • Do you know their biggest hurdle at work?
  • Growing up, what did they learn about communication?

We’ve been taught to value IQ over EQ and to hide our vulnerability at all costs.  Putting EQ front and centre and practicing honest, clear communication will be challenging and will take the rigour and commitment of a true leader.


From stuck to mastery – transforming your experience of business.

As successful business owners, it’s common to plateau after years of enjoying commercial growth – and personal satisfaction. I know, I’ve been there.

We also know using the same old approach won’t drive different results, or new experiences, but what’s the best ‘circuit breaker’ to stop us in our well worn tracks without risking the business?

As a performance coach for business owners and thought leaders, I work with you behind the scenes to circuit break your approach, transform your experience and revolutionise your results within our first 90 days – while you’re taking care of business.

Email me directly to discuss working together to get you unstuck, feeling re-energised, driving results and mastering your next experience of business now.

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